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HER Number:MDV72925
Name:Pottery from the River Taw, Barnstaple


Pottery dating from the 13th to the 20th century was recovered from two areas of shingle bank in the River Taw at Barnstaple in 2006 and 2007.


Grid Reference:SS 555 330
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
Civil ParishFremington
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishFREMINGTON
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FINDSPOT (XIII to XVIII - 1201 AD to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Devon County Council, April 2007, Tide Of Time: Medieval and Post-Medieval Pottery discovered on sand bank in the River Taw, 1-2 (Article in Serial). SDV352635.

Press article summarising rescue archaeology work at eroding sand bank in River Taw down river from Barnstaple Castle, where pottery dating from the 13th to 17th centuries was recovered. The erosion of the sandbank was due to construction of Western Bypass bridge.

Reed, S. J. (DCC), 2006, Pottery from the River Taw (Personal Comment). SDV337275.

Alterations in the tidal flow and scour patterns of the River Taw in this area have exposed a coarse gravel sand-bank from which 17th and 18th century pottery is being recovered. The size, quantity and well-preserved (unabraded) nature of the assemblage suggests that the pot sherds have not been moved far from their original place of deposition. The presence of a quantity of wasters and mis-fired pieces suggest that the assemblage may represent dumping of waste from the local potteries on the north bank of the river. This material has been incorporated into the sandbank where it has remained undisturbed until now.

Wessex Archaeology, 2007, Recovery of Artefacts from a Shingle Bank in the River Taw, Barnstaple (Report - non-specific). SDV339901.

Collection of pottery recovered from a shingle bank (Site 101) at the junction of the Yeo and Taw rivers in 2007. The assemblage dated from the 13th to the 20th century. The material from Site 101 represents domestic rubbish which may have been discarded into the river or dumped near it and subsequently washed into it. A new pottery scatter was identified upstream from Long Bridge (Site 102) and artefacts from this site were dated to the 17th and 18th centuries. The pottery from Site 102 consisted of large sherds and may represent rubbish thrown from the bridge above.

Pink, F., 2014, Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions, 1 (Report - non-specific). SDV357343.

Lane, A., 28/03/2007, Tide of Time Discovered at River Taw (Correspondence). SDV338203.

Press release on finds of pottery dating from the 13th to 17th century found where the tidal river has scoured a sand bank. Finds include complete vessels as well as wasters. Pottery has been produced in Barnstaple since the medieval period but the 17th century was the industry's heyday with a cluster of kilns in the vicinity of the castle producing a wide range of pottery from fine decorated tableware to functional storage and dairying vessels to cloam ovens. The pottery was sold widely throughout Devon and exported to the colonies in the Caribbean and North America.

Wessex Archaeology, April 2007, Historic Pottery Found in River at Barnstaple (Article in Serial). SDV338204.

Changes into tidal flow of the river caused by the construction of a new bridge over the Taw have led to part of a sandbank being scoured away revealing a large quantity of 17th century pottery that was buried beneath the sand. Wessex Archaeology and local volunteers have surveyed the area to record the finds. Some of the pots found are shapes that have not been seen before, perhaps new styles that proved too difficult to make or that didn't catch on. Other finds were wasters, pottery damaged during firing and thrown away. As well as 17th century pottery, sherds of medieval pottery were also found. The sandbank lies not far from one of the main potteries in Barnstaple and it seems likely that much of the material came from there. It would seem that the potters threw the wasters into the river where they were washed downstream before coming to rest in the sandbank.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV337275Personal Comment: Reed, S. J. (DCC). 2006. Pottery from the River Taw.
SDV338203Correspondence: Lane, A.. 28/03/2007. Tide of Time Discovered at River Taw. Press Release. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV338204Article in Serial: Wessex Archaeology. April 2007. Historic Pottery Found in River at Barnstaple. Wessex Archaeology News. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV339901Report - non-specific: Wessex Archaeology. 2007. Recovery of Artefacts from a Shingle Bank in the River Taw, Barnstaple. Wessex Archaeology Report. 65110.01. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV352635Article in Serial: Devon County Council. April 2007. Tide Of Time: Medieval and Post-Medieval Pottery discovered on sand bank in the River Taw. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 96. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1-2.
SDV357343Report - non-specific: Pink, F.. 2014. Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions. AC Archaeology Report. ACD473/1/1. Digital. 1.

Associated Monuments

MDV38774Related to: Post Medieval Pottery Works in Barnstaple (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV1114 - BONE NON SPECIFIC (Unknown date)
  • FDV1115 - TILE (Unknown date)
  • FDV1212 - POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FDV1113 - POT (XIII - 1201 AD to 1300 AD)
  • FDV2085 - POT (XIII to Unknown - 1201 AD)
  • FDV1117 - POT (XIV - 1301 AD to 1400 AD)
  • FDV1118 - POT (XV - 1401 AD to 1500 AD)
  • FDV1119 - POT (XVI - 1501 AD to 1600 AD)
  • FDV875 - POT (XVII - 1601 AD to 1700 AD)
  • FDV876 - POT (XVIII - 1701 AD to 1800 AD)
  • FDV1116 - BRICK (XVIII to XXI - 1751 AD to 2009 AD)
  • FDV1120 - POT (XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV4203 - Pottery from the River at Barnstaple
  • EDV4344 - Recovery of Artefacts from the River Taw

Date Last Edited:Nov 26 2014 12:18PM